“We paid to build it, but we don’t own it”;

By John Perry

If you live in San Juan Capistrano, I am sure you have noticed that your monthly water bills have significantly increased over the past several years. The City has not fully disclosed the reasons for the never-ending upward spiral of the cost of water so I set out to learn why. After reviewing documents obtained through Public Records Act requests, here’s what I found;

Since 2002 SJC water ratepayers have been making payments on a series of bonds issued by our water department for approximately 74 million dollars, at least half of which was spent on infrastructure to build the Ground Water Recovery Plant (“GWRP”). I am still waiting for additional documentation requested from the City to determine how the other half of the bond money was spent.

The documentation indicates that although we paid to build it, we don’t own the GWRP. According to a memo written by then-City Manager George Scarborough and the 2010 Urban Water Management Plan written by City-hired water consultants Malcolm Pirnie and adopted by the City Council, we are only leasing the GWRP for the local water authority, the San Juan Basin Authority (“SJBA”).

At the end of the lease, and after spending 138 million dollars on bond costs, we will turn over the plant and the wells to the SJBA and we will have no more than the 20% water rights granted to us in the first place.

I also learned that with the exception of one year with record rainfall, the GWRP NEVER produced to its design capacity. In other words, it didn’t do what it was supposed to. Rather than holding the design/build firm accountable however, our City let them off the hook, despite the fact that we could have used insurance to help foot the cost of the underperforming facility.
Mayoral priorities

By Kim McCarthy 

In March of this year, the “Annual Mayor’s Dinner Address” to the City was held at El Adobe Restaurant where Mayor Sam Allevato held court with the ‘Good Ol’ Boys’ of San Juan. Well, at least some live in San Juan. Not Rancho Mission Viejo Company land owner Tony Moiso, who was featured in the Mayor’s address but who I understand lives in Laguna Beach.

Instead of a speech, Mayor Allevato showed his creative side with a movie narrated by and starring himself, with appearances by such luminaries as Moiso and Chamber of Commerce President Mark Bodenhamer (who I’m guessing probably doesn’t live here either). The “actors” gushed about the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park “Open Space” that we bought from Moiso for 27 million dollars (that we are prohibited from using). Missing from the movie was any mention of Moiso’s plans to build a city across the street from our “Open Space” and how the traffic created by his development will forever change the lives of San Juan residents.

This “movie” cost us taxpayers around $7000.

At the same time Allevato was debuting his tribute to the Good Ol’ Boys, I was attending a community forum in Dana Point conducted by the San Clemente Border Patrol. All cities in South Orange County were invited, including San Juan. At the meeting, the Border Patrol stated that the “new border” is our South Orange County beaches, where smuggling boats are found abandoned. They explained the dangers of drug and human traffickers and how cities like SJC are used as safe havens for the business of moving people and drugs.

Since SJC received an invitation to the meeting, I wondered why the City did not post the meeting notice on the City website or enclose it in our water bills, as they do other important notices to the community? I asked the council; if one of the main functions of local government is public safety, why did I have to hear about this meeting from a friend in Dana Point? Mayor Sam Allevato responded, “It is not ‘our job’ to do the P.R. for the San Clemente Border Patrol.” The Mayor’s statement says it all. Apparently, he believes his “job” is doing P.R. for the Rancho Mission Viejo Company and playing power broker with taxpayer dollars. If you want to see where the Mayor’s priorities lie in my opinion, you need only view his movie. Go to www.SanJuanCapistrano.org and click on “State of the City 2011”. While watching it think about the 14,000 homes going in across from the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park along with the 5 million sq. ft. of Commercial and Retail and ask yourself why Allevato didn’t protect his constituents from San Juan becoming an on/off ramp for the Ranch? For that matter, why are we paying for sewer (and possibly water?) connections to the Ranch’s new development?

It seems clear that our town needs to break the control of the Good Ol’ Boys. Under their watch, our debt has increased to over 150 million dollars, our water bills have skyrocketed and traffic is just getting worse. In November of 2012 you will have the opportunity to shift the balance of power. I encourage you to stay informed. Your family’s safety and your property values depend on it!
Council supports extension of 241 Toll Road to Ortega.
The question is; why?


At a recent City Council “special meeting” the Council majority voted to support the Transportation Corridor Agency’s (“TCA”) proposal to extend a segment of the 241 toll road to Ortega Hwy.

At the meeting, several residents asked the council how extending the toll road to Ortega, adding potentially thousands more car trips daily to our roads, will benefit the residents of San Juan. The only responses were vague references to alleviating traffic on the I-5 freeway. This makes no sense to us however, considering that this toll road extension appears designed to accommodate the Rancho Mission Viejo Company’s (“the Ranch”) massive planned development on our eastern border. Massive development equals massive traffic.

While the Ranch may have “entitlements” to build up to 14,000 homes, they do not have the approval. In order to get approval, the Ranch needs additional road capacity that will accommodate the enormous amount of traffic that will be generated by their plans to build up to 14,000 homes and 5 million square feet of retail/commercial at Antonio and La Pata. Planning documents indicate that they currently have the green light to build only a relatively small mix of homes and commercial/retail.

Although all San Juan will be impacted by the additional traffic, those most directly impacted will be the neighborhoods along Ortega, San Juan Creek Road and La Novia.
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